The Gospel of Matthew

This devotional is written by Alex Perkin. Alex spends most of his life at the kitchen table, at work, eating bananas. 

Matthew 11:20-30

Woe on unrepentant towns

20 Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. 21 'Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.'

The Father revealed in the Son 25 At that time Jesus said, 'I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.

27 'All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

28 'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.'

Reflection

Capernaum was at the center of Jesus' public ministry. It became his home. Here and in the surrounding towns (like Chorazin and Berthsaida) he found a number of his disciples, taught in the synagogues, preached the gospel, cast out demons, healed people of blindness, fevers, paralysis; the list goes on.

Yet, in the place where he worked the hardest people responded to him the least. They saw themselves as righteously following God yet they did not recognise that God had moved into the neighbourhood. Instead they shrugged their shoulders and went their own way.

Jesus is frustrated with their pride and arrogance blocking them hearing his Good News and transformative power. He condemns his hometown, Capernaum, Chorazin and Berthsaida, and compares them to the wayward cities of Sodom, Tyre and Sidon. Even they would have had a change of heart, and avoided destruction, had they been witness to the miracles that Jesus performed!

What proud and arrogant ways do you see in this city (or the place where you live) that prevents people recognising Jesus? What proud and arrogant ways do you see in yourself that blocks Jesus speaking to your heart?

Let's pray for our city which might feel closed to the transformative presence of Jesus offering it hope. Let's pray for ourselves, which might feel so tired and worn out that we've forgotten, or don't know, that Jesus takes our burdens on himself and offers us rest.

Jesus says: "Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me--watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."


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